Who Am I?

I awoke today to a gray dawn, the rain pouring down outside my window. I looked around, uncertain of where I was... and come to think of it, who, what, and when I was. I stood up from my sleeping mat, glanced around the unfamiliar surroundings, and managed to find something that would pass as clothing. Opening the door to my room, I found a small package outside with a note. "You have amnesia. Try this — it will help." What the...?


Deja vu

Along with the note was a rectangular box with a strange looking fox head on the cover and the words "The Witcher" across the top. Opening the box, I found a shiny circular disc. Memories poked at my fogged mind: "It's a DVD — you put it inside a computer." My unknown benefactor appeared to be right; the box was helping my memories to return. Walking down the hall, I found a convenient table with food and a laptop sitting on it; might as well get started….

As I watched the opening sequence of this "game", I began to recall more of my past: books I read, people I knew, getting sick at tradeshows, working on computers, and doing something called "benchmarking" until my eyes bled. Another phrase kept popping into my mind: "A non-tech". Who or what that meant, I just couldn't guess. Back to the game, I was walking around a virtual world, talking to people, killing people, and occasionally sleeping with people. Every now and then, I would level up, regaining lost memories and skills.

While my virtual counterpart became more adept at slicing and dicing monsters, my real-world skill upgrades were less dramatic. Typing could be upgraded with 60 WPM and Enhanced Carpal Tunnels, with the level 5 upgrade being Speech-Recognition. Strength upgrades featured skills such as Mountain Biking, Hiking, and the ability to Lug around 20 Pound Desktop Replacement Notebooks. Stamina skills were similarly useful: All-Night Gaming Sessions, Extra Caffeine Tolerance, and Resistance to Tradeshow Meetings. Perhaps I should've started with the Intelligence category, however: Improved Wit, Analogies, Insightful Commentary, and Internet Author were available. Unfortunately, I ran out of skill points after choosing the Author upgrade — it was Improved Wit or the Nacho Champion stamina upgrade! At least you're getting a review, even if it is for a two month old game….


If you're thinking right about now that that's the most clichéd introduction to an article you've ever read, you're probably right. Nevertheless, the same cliché serves as the basis for The Witcher, a game developed by CD Projekt and published by Atari. Don't let that deter you, however, as what follows that generic introduction is anything but. The Witcher is set in a fantasy world based on the books of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.


Believe it or not, there's a laptop on a desk inside

Who? Okay, so most of us very likely don't speak Polish and have never read any of his books, but they appear to be extremely popular in Poland and they are being translated into other languages. I'm a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi books, and I often wish that the stories in computer games could reach the same level as what we find in the pen and ink world. Some of my favorite games of all time have been based on literature — Neuromancer and Betrayal at Krondor — so I was more than happy to give The Witcher a shot.

Welcome to My World
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  • szellem - Monday, February 25, 2008 - link

    Hi!

    I have just bought the withcher, installed, and tried to run, but the game does absolutely nothing, the launcher window comes up, but does nothing when I try to run the game. I use an XP, with SP2, AMD2, ATi HD2600XT, game updated to 1.3

    got any idea?

    thx

    g.
    Reply
  • panathatube - Monday, January 28, 2008 - link

    I think that there is a big emphasis on the games' flaws in the review. Perhaps because the game was not created by a western studio there is a bit of prejudice. Whilst i do not deny the games' flaws, i find it an excellent game overall (especially after the 1.2 patch). We have to see the big picture here. Having finished it has given me the sense of a character driven RPG action drama. Almost all the main characters have their own agendas, their own hidden secrets, and the bad guys believe that what they are doing is right, and they make arguments about their beliefs. I thing the game is actually better than the Knights of the Old Republic games and that says a lot as those were excellent. The alchemy and the way u level up your character is excellent too. I also enjoyed Oblivion but most of its characters and society feel to me rather 2dimensional now. The alchemy and the way u level up in Bethesda's game have really dated also. Reply
  • nHeat - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    What game is up next for review? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    I'm open for suggestions. :)

    I could do Crysis if there's a desire, and because I haven't played through it yet. Vote here for what game you might like to see reviewed, and I'll get to it. It might be a month (or more) before I'm done, though. LOL
    Reply
  • Screammit - Sunday, January 27, 2008 - link

    I'll suggest an MMORPG like Tabula Rasa, only because you hate them and I'm a sadist :) Reply
  • foxracing13 - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    nice review. I personally loved the game! Although I did have to deal with insane load times it kept me glued to my computer the whole first week of november. Reply
  • BikeDude - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    I'd like to see a proper Flight Simulator: X (w/SP2) benchmark. This game stressed both CPU and video cards. FSX SP1 added multi-core support and striking a good balance when trying to figure out which CPU(s) and GPU to buy becomes an interesting challenge.

    Reply
  • Yoshi911 - Sunday, January 27, 2008 - link

    Yeah, Flight sim X is a resource HOG. I've installed this on a few client/personal/friends computers, and anything below godlike GPU/CPU combo seems to drop in the mud.

    Otherwise, pick the big names and go with it. Great job!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, January 27, 2008 - link

    I could do a performance article on FSX, perhaps, but a review? Not a chance. Might as well ask me to try and write an article on automobile repairs! I know there are tons of people out there that love MS Flight Simulator "games" - or at least people that buy it every new version - but I'm not one of them. I *do* have a copy of FSX and the expansion, courtesy of NVIDIA, but it's not a game that even remotely interests me. As a resource hog benchmark, though... that has potential. :) Reply
  • poohbear - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    wow is this the first game review for anandtech? usually u guys do benchmarks of game engines, but this was a nice review nonetheless and hopefully we'll see a few more reviews of major games. i'd also appreciate u continue benchmarking 3d engines cause hardware is ur speciality, there are so many game review sites out there, albeit they might not be as impartial as u guys. cheers. Reply

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